Reporter Bryan Christy recently attended a meeting convened by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The subject was the illegal wildlife trade entitled Wildlife Trafficking and Conservation: A Call to Action.
Here are some of the statements that Christy made in his blog about that meeting. You can see the rest of this material and links to other reports he has made by dipping into the site.
The Chinese government, through its company China National Arts and Crafts Group Corporation (CNACG), aka Goalmark, is the world’s largest ivory purchaser, carver, and retailer. It purchased two-thirds (40 tonnes) of the roughly 62 tonnes of ivory sold at auction to China in 2008, and it controlled the import price on the remaining 20 tonnes sold to the three other Chinese bidders.
The Chinese government is expanding its ivory consuming capacity. In 2009, it built China’s largest ivory carving factory.
Chinese ivory carving is big business involving a small number of individuals—perhaps a few hundred, based on my observations—only about a dozen of whom are recognized national master carvers.
As long as the Chinese government is in the business of expanding the ivory trade, ivory-related crime will flourish.
On the other side of the story, Chinese basketball star Yao Ming has recently been trying to raise the profile of this issue. A couple of UK newspapers, the Guardian and the Times ran stories about his visit to Kenya. He is reputed to be much loved and respected in his home country. Will his efforts make any difference? I do hope so, but I’m not overly optimistic. He is fighting a “City Hall” but one with serious muscle.